Should the church be called a hospital?

I’ve often heard the church described as a “hospital for sinners, not a museum for saints.”  What does that mean?

ChurchIsHospitalMost people get that metaphor from Jesus when He said to the Pharisees, who were upset with Him for eating with unsavory types like tax collectors and sinners:

It is not the healthy that need a doctor, but the sick.  I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners. ~ Mark 2:17

It is true that we are a community of sickos who need a Good Doctor.  But I wonder if we’re not doing more harm than good to the church because of that description?  I mean, who lives in a hospital?  Who WANTS to live in a hospital?

Is this very subtly saying to ourselves (and others) that we only need the church when we are sick:  emotionally, financially, spiritually or physically?

Is this saying the church is only good for us when we’re struggling, but once you get healthy, hasta la vista baby?

Is this saying that those who work in the church are the only healthy ones? (I know this is NOT true!)

Isn’t this how many people view the church, and ultimately God Himself?

So, what metaphor would be better?

Paul gave one in Ephesians (chapter 3).  He says it’s a mystery. Let that sink in for a moment.  A mystery can be something impossible to explain or understand.

They all realized they were in a place of holy mystery, that God was at work among them. ~ Luke 7:16 MSG

That’s what people said after Jesus had just raised a boy from the dead.

We can’t figure it out… and do we really want to?

We do not enter into a mystery because of what it gives us or how it serves us or how it makes us feel.  We simply enter.

And by doing that stuff happens to us below the surface.  Neither you, me or the weird person next to you can rationalize it.  It’s a mystery.

When we think of church as a mystery, the sermon might as well be in Italian, the way the music is done doesn’t matter and how long the service lasts isn’t relevant.

A person should consider us in this way:  as servants of Christ and managers of God’s mysteries. ~ I Corinthians 4:1 HCSB

I love that description:  managers of God’s mysteries.  We’re not the detectives and we’re certainly not the masterminds of the plan.

David, the great psalmist, who also had great problems, wrote this:

ChurchIsMysteryI waited and waited and waited for God.
At last He looked; finally, He listened.
He lifted me out of the ditch,
pulled me from deep mud.
He stood me up on a solid rock
to make sure I wouldn’t slip.
He taught me how to sing the latest God-song,
a praise-song to our God.
More and more people are seeing this:
they enter the mystery,
abandoning themselves to God.
~ Psalm 40:1-3 MSG

I hope you get a chance to enter the mystery of God and abandon yourself to Him. It is pleasurable and painful, tranquil and turbulent, frustrating and fulfilling, many times all at once!  It is a mystery.  Enter in.

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